Perteet and Fred Spencer, the couple bringing authentic frozen West African cuisine to grocers in U.S.

Ama Nunoo Aug 11, 2020 at 02:00pm

August 11, 2020 at 02:00 pm | Foodie Friday, Opinions & Features, Success Story

Ama Nunoo

Ama Nunoo | Staff Writer

August 11, 2020 at 02:00 pm | Foodie Friday, Opinions & Features, Success Story

Perteet and Fred Spencer are the owners of AYO Foods Photo: KOLUMN Magazine

There is a huge possibility that most people have chanced on one West African meal or the other either on social media or in mainstream news. Jollof wars certainly made a huge buzz some time ago as West African dishes have gained immense popularity over the years.

A couple in Chicago are bringing West African cuisine into people’s home by creating a ‘Ayo Foods’, a line of frozen West African meals now available at Whole Foods.

The authentic and delicious family recipes of founders Perteet and Fred Spencer, which have been with their family for generations can now be found in almost 50 Whole Foods across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Ayo means ‘Joy’ in Yoruba, an indigenous Nigerian language spoken in other parts of West Africa as well. Although the essence of the frozen food line is to share their excellent homemade family recipes and family bonding with the world, they could not help but want to bring absolute joy to the many ethnic explorers and a huge west-African millennial population out there.

“Our home has always been a gathering point for friends and family because we love the joy that is born out of those special moments together,” Perteet and Fred Spencer shared with Black Enterprise.

“None of these moments happen without a great meal. As we thought about building a business together, nothing inspired us more than using our strong industry experiences to create these moments for others by sharing some of our family’s favorite recipes that were under-represented in mainstream grocery stores.”

The meals are bursting with flavor and are highly nutritious and certainly a true celebration of West African delicacies made easy to meet the consumer’s lifestyle. Ayo Foods has three packages on the market which come in mild to medium spiced options.

The Cassava leaf soup made with ‘cassava leaves and, chicken and spices slow cooked into a soup.’ Jollof rice, ‘a one pot long-grain rice spiced and stewed into a flavorful tomato broth with roasted red peppers and onions.’ Then they have the Egusi seed soup made with ‘Ground melon seeds, fresh peppers, onions and spinach slow cooked into a savory stew.’

There are some conservative people who do not like to try new things, but the Spencers hope their meals will move people to try West African dishes since their brand has been met with great patronage since it started in 2019.

“We’ve watched the explosive growth of frozen as more and more premium items transform freezer doors across America,” they added.

“In many instances, the source of that growth is ethnic food as people look to explore the world one bite at a time. Frozen was a natural fit as an easy way for people to experience the flavors of West Africa.”

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